Learning As I Chop

A Thank You Gift for Me!

Posted in Baking/Cooking by R @ Learning As I Chop on January 28, 2011

I bet you didn’t know this but H and I were recently in Mexico. Fooled ya, didn’t we? Mexico is famous for lots of things – Frida, tequila, Corona and vanilla. So when I saw this in the shop, I decided to bring home two bottles. One for me, and one for my friend C.

You might remember C. She’s the one who suggested rolling your dough between silpats. Because she’s constantly giving me food advice, I knew she’d appreciate this little token of my appreciation. So what did she do in response? Brought me some cake! An olive oil cake, to be exact.

This cake was delicious. Simple, comforting and would go perfectly with a nice cup of tea. Mint perhaps? I especially like the little kick of spice. Just enough that you taste the flavors but not overpowering. Knowing I’d share it with LAIC readers, I asked C for the recipe and a few words.

Ingredients
• Pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
• 1/2 cup whole milk
• 1½ cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (see Note)
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 2 large eggs
• 2 large egg yolks
• Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions
1.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan. In a small bowl, sprinkle the saffron over the milk and let stand for 15 minutes. Sift the flour and baking powder onto a large piece of parchment paper.

2. In a standing mixer fitted with a whip, beat the sugar with the olive oil, vanilla, cardamom and salt at medium-high speed until well blended. Add the eggs and egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue to beat at medium-high speed until the mixture is pale and thick, about 4 minutes. At low speed, alternately beat in the flour mixture and milk in 3 additions, scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary.

3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes, until the top is golden and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a rack. Turn the cake right side up and let cool completely. Dust the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar, slice into wedges and serve.

Note: Buy the freshest ground cardamom for the best flavor. Alternatively, you can crush 12 cardamom pods and grind the seeds in a spice grinder or in a mortar.

Make Ahead: The cake can be wrapped in plastic and kept at room temperature for up to 2 days. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Editor’s Note: For the best flavor, use good- quality saffron sparingly: not more than a scant 1/8 teaspoon crumbled. Its flavor will intensify as the cake sits—in fact, the cake tastes best the day after it’s made. If you’re not a saffron fan, leave it out.

From C:  To compliment the Mexican vanilla extract, and play up the specialness of the cake in general, I decided to use the best of everything, where possible. So, pastured eggs, organic Evan’s Farm Milk, salt from the Meadow http://www.atthemeadow.com/shop/ , cold pressed Organic Olive Oil from California, organic ground cardamom and King Arthur organic flour.

Thanks C for the lovely cake. I definitely see this recipe in my future. Perhaps I’ll make it for a Sunday brunch or party offering? I’d say most people will this like dessert, especially when paired with homemade whipped cream or a side of fruit. Enjoy!

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